How Is Indoor Air Quality Measured?

According to the World Health Organization, poor indoor air quality is responsible for over 6.5 million premature deaths per year. The good news is that a lot of health issues can be prevented if you know exactly how to measure your indoor air quality. 

You can choose to invest in an air quality sensor that will be constantly monitoring the number of pollutants in your house (a lot of devices can be connected to your smartphone via an app). You can also get the air quality measured by a professional, in case you just moved in or if there was a plumbing issue in the house.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the topic and find out what exactly affects indoor air quality and how to find out if the air in your house is polluted. 

How Is Indoor Air Quality Measured?

There are a few devices that you can use to measure indoor air quality:

  • Inexpensive indoor thermometers that can measure not only the temperature but also the indoor humidity.
  • More advanced gadgets that can measure volatile organic compounds (a VOC sensor) and small particles in the air. Such devices can be especially helpful if one of the family members is suffering from certain health issues.
  • A carbon monoxide monitor – a vitally important element in anyone’s home, especially, if you have a gas-burning appliance. 
  • Carbon dioxide monitors, in their turn, can help identify areas with the worst ventilation.

Read: 3 Ways How To Improve Air Quality In The Basement?

Is There a Way to Test Air Quality in Home?

Buy an indoor air quality monitor

These devices include sensors that can monitor indoor temperature, humidity, VOC and particulate matter levels, and the air quality index. You might also want to consider getting carbon monoxide and radon detectors.

Indoor Air Quality Monitor
$79.99
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12/03/2022 12:55 pm GMT

Evaluate your health

An indirect method of testing air quality in your home would be by evaluating your health. If you have noticed that you experience a headache and congestion only when you come back home, then poor indoor air quality might be to blame.

Use a DIY testing kit

There are plenty of testing kits available on the market nowadays that allow you to check the indoor air for VOCs, radon, formaldehyde, and more

Read: Why Is Indoor Air Quality Important?

Talk to your facility manager

If your building has a facility manager, then make sure that the FM is constantly monitoring the indoor air quality and how well the ventilation system is working.

How to Calculate Indoor Air Quality?

An expert would first consider a few important factors – the building type, any health-related issues that the people living in the house are experiencing, the type of ventilation system, the presence of mold, the cleanliness of the surroundings, and so on.

After completing the inspection, the professional is going to understand the presence of which compounds he would have to measure. For example, CO2 levels, the accumulation of volatile organic compounds, Sulphur dioxide levels, etc.

The measurements are then compared with the indoor air quality standards

Read: What Affects Indoor Air Quality?

Is There an App to Measure Indoor Air Quality?

There are apps that allow you to monitor the quality of the air worldwide, but there is no separate application for checking indoor air quality.

If you want to be able to monitor how healthy the air in your house is, you would have to buy a special device that provides you with the necessary information through an app.

  • uHoo is an indoor air quality sensor that monitors the temperature, humidity, and levels of CO2, carbon monoxide, PM2.5, and VOCs. It’s compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa and works with both Android and iOS systems. 
  • Nest Protect is an air quality monitor that will be sending regular updates directly to your phone. It monitors carbon monoxide and smoke levels.
  • Airthings Wave Plus is another air quality monitor. It has 6 sensors and is able to track carbon dioxide, total VOCs, and radon. The app would also be sending you tips on how to save on energy costs and optimize your ventilation.

Are DIY Air Quality Tests Accurate?

The majority of DIY air quality tests are, unfortunately, not accurate at all. Some kits can detect the most dangerous substances that might be polluting your air (like VOCs and formaldehyde, for example), but they would most certainly miss mold spores and other allergens.

Moreover, with DIY air quality tests, there is too much room for human error. In order to work, the test should be placed in the proper location and for a certain period.

Instead of buying such kits, it is recommended to invest either in an air quality monitor or in professional air quality testing. 

Read: Should An HVAC Zone Damper Bleed Air?

What Is the Best Air Quality Tester?

Before choosing an air quality tester, make sure to check the Air Quality Sensor Performance Evaluation Center website – it provides data on the sensors after real-world field trials. Also, take the target pollutant into consideration and make sure that you wouldn’t have to calibrate the sensor each time before use.

Here are a few air quality monitors that the majority of homeowners might like:

  • Temtop M2000 2nd Generation
  • Atmotube Pro Portable
  • Sensirion SPS30

How Often Should You Do an Air Quality Test?

There are plenty of factors that can contribute to the worsening of indoor air quality. You might want to get the air tested once:

  • You have bought new furniture – these items can release VOCs, that’s why it’s recommended to place the new furniture outside right after purchase for at least a week.
  • The seasons change – if you tend to suffer from allergies, then you might have to get the indoor air quality tested to figure out whether or not you’re going to need an air purifier during the allergy season
  • Someone in the house is suffering from respiratory conditions or has developed one recently – in the first case, you should be monitoring the indoor air quality anyway, but if someone had developed such a condition not that long ago, then poor indoor air quality might be to blame
  • There is a leak or a plumbing problem – in such a case, mold might become a problem. As this thing is not always visible, you might want to conduct an air quality test

Read: How To Keep House Air Clean?

What Is the Standard for Indoor Air Quality?

Indoor air quality standards are mostly based on the guidelines created by OSHA, ASHRAE, and CDC. According to these guidelines, the concentration of TVOC, for example, in ‘excellent’ indoor air should not be above 0.065 ppm.

What Are the 5 Main Factors That Affect Indoor Air Quality?

  1. Ventilation
  2. Dust and other airborne particles
  3. Chemicals (including VOCs)
  4. Microbes
  5. Humidity

How Do You Know If Indoor Air Is Polluted?

There are a few common signs of poor indoor air quality:

  • Cold symptoms that don’t seem to go away (sneezing, coughing, dizziness, nausea…)
  • Unexplained skin rashes
  • Dust buildup
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Unpleasant smells
  • Hot and cold spots around the house (this is a sign that the air isn’t circulating properly)

What Are the 4 Major Indoor Air Pollutants?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the 4 major indoor air pollutants include VOCs, radon, carbon monoxide, and excess moisture.

Why Is Air Quality Worse at Night?

As the temperature drops during the night, the atmosphere ‘traps’ various pollutants close to the ground and in our houses. If the space is poorly ventilated, then you’ll get to feel the effect even more.

How Can You Improve Indoor Air Quality?

The simplest ways of improving indoor air quality include:

  • Keeping your house clean
  • Providing natural ventilation
  • Using bathroom and kitchen fans
  • Using allergy-friendly and chemical-free products

How Do You Improve Indoor Air Quality in HVAC?

One of the most effective ways of improving indoor air quality is by using your HVAC system

Conclusion

Indoor air quality plays an extremely important role in our lives. You can use special air quality sensors to constantly monitor the number of pollutants in your house, or get the air regularly checked by a professional.